1. Women and heart attacks

A smiling woman with shoulder length blonde here and wearing a grey sweater and glasses stands against a pale beige brick wall.
Cindy Bruce had a heart attack when she was 61. Credit: Contributed

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women globally and the leading cause of hospitalization and premature death for women in Canada,” reports Yvette e’Entremont:

And it’s on the rise. 

While cardiovascular diseases affect one in three women globally, messaging on the Wear Red Canada website notes that women are “under-studied, under-diagnosed, under-treated, and under-aware when it comes to their cardiovascular health.”

“The statistics do show that about 50% of women get misdiagnosed on their first presentation. So they get turned away,” Dr. Sharon Mulvagh said in an interview. 

d’Entremont interviewed Cindy Bruce, who had a heart attack at age 61:

“That image of dropping to the floor? I didn’t. So I say that I didn’t have the Hollywood heart attack,” Bruce said.

“Have full awareness that a healthy appearing person can be having a heart attack and go tell your friends, your sisters, your mother, your daughters, your grandchildren. Tell them that women can have heart attacks that don’t look like that. They can look like this.”

Click here to read “Heart disease is number one killer of women, and it’s on the rise.”

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2. Libraries

The atrium at the Halifax Central Library. Below you can see the main floor, and above you can see the skylight, with the staircases cris crossing in the middle of the photo.
Halifax Central Library in 2018. Credit: Zane Woodford Credit: Zane Woodford

“Councillors are considering spending an extra $300,000 on books and e-books next year to keep Halifax Public Libraries’ collection from slipping further behind the national average,” reports Zane Woodford:

Halifax Public Libraries CEO Åsa Kachan presented her proposed 2023-2024 budget to council’s budget committee on Friday.

Overall, the libraries projected budget is down $663,000 or 2.8% from last year to $23.2 million. Kachan said that was the target from the municipality’s finance department, aiming for an 8% increase to the average property tax bill.

The libraries cut almost $100,000 in staffing by keeping positions vacant and cut building maintenance by a little more than $100,000.

Click here to read “Council to consider $300,000 to boost Halifax Public Libraries collection.”

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3. Lisa Banfield

A woman and a man stand in an open field area.
Lisa Banfield speaks with a police investigator in Portapique in October 2020. Still from an RCMP video

“Instead of acknowledging its many systemic failures, the RCMP has done its best to deflect attention from them, in part by charging [Lisa] Banfield, her brother, and brother-in-law, in December 2020 with transporting that ammunition for GW,” writes Stephen Kimber:

Yes, it was “lawful, reasonable and just” for the RCMP to investigate how GW acquired his tools of mass murder. Perhaps there were even “reasonable and probable grounds to believe” Banfield had committed the offence. But no, no, no. Laying the charge was not in the public interest.

Click here to read “Lisa Banfield: criminal charges v discretion, compassion, common sense.”

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4. Port Hawkesbury Paper agreement extension ignores Lahey Report

Port Hawkebury Paper mill. Photo: Joan Baxter Credit: Joan Baxter

The much-celebrated Lahey Report, which set out the principles for a more sustainable forestry industry in Nova Scotia, wrestled with it saw as potentially competing interests of the Department of Natural Resources: DNR was both in the business of approving logging contracts on Crown land and of protecting the environment on those same Crown lands.

Lahey rejected the idea that those two responsibilities should be put in different government departments, and instead included this prescription:

[F]orestry on Crown lands should be governed by a forest management planning process under which “FULA holders” will be required to develop a forest management plan for the lands they are to manage through a Class II environmental assessment under the Environment Act or a process under the supervision of an independent third party that emulates such an environmental assessment. In either case, there should be a written report to the deciding minister or ministers and a decision with supporting written reasons from the minister or ministers. The requirement for such plans developed through a public process is a level of forest management on Crown lands – required in other jurisdictions – that is missing in Nova Scotia. It is a level that should be instituted however forestry is to be conducted on public lands, but it is especially important if Nova Scotia is serious about conducting ecosystem‐based forestry on a landscape basis. Other provinces use environmental assessment, or a process like environmental assessment, to conduct this level of planning, including using it as a vehicle to facilitate the public’s participation in forestry at a strategic planning level. Doing so in Nova Scotia under the authority of the Minister of Environment creates an opportunity to bring transparency and accountability to the process and to mitigate the concerns about how DNR [Department of Natural Resources] internally manages its competing responsibilities.

In short, if there’s going to be logging on Crown land, the plan should first be run through the environmental assessment process.

But last week, when the province extended two agreements it has with Port Hawkesbury Paper, which were first inked in 2012, there was no requirement that the agreements be checked through the environmental assessment process. The relevant agreement is:

The company’s forest utilization licence agreement is a long-term agreement that guarantees an annual volume of timber from certain parcels of Crown land and sets out terms and conditions. Originally for 20 years, it is now extended [from 2032] to 2043. Changes to the agreement include a lower volume of timber to ensure the Province can accommodate multiple priorities on Crown land.

That “lower volume of timber” is a lot of hand-waving, but Says who? Is there any analysis of that claim? That’s precisely the point of an environmental assessment (EA), which isn’t being done.

David Patriquin noticed that the EA was missing, and so asked Dalhousie University Emeritus Professor Peter Duinker, who had proposed the EA process when he was an Expert Advisor to the Lahey Report. Duinker wrote back to Patriquin:

First, a reminder of Lahey’s recommendation #20 (emphasis mine):

“20. The forestry management planning process for Crown lands should be conducted under a legislated environmental assessment process, either as a Class II environmental assessment under the Environment Act or in a process that emulates the Class II process under the supervision of an independent third party (or panel) under the authority of the Minister of Natural Resources or the Ministers of Natural Resources and Environment. This process should be required before the issuing or renewal of forest utilization agreements. One of the objectives of this assessment will be to ensure that forestry on Crown land will adhere to the principles of, and contribute to the objectives of, ecological forestry, as embodied in the strengthened framework for ecosystem-based forestry and the outcome-based accountability to be applicable to areas of Crown land managed for high-production forestry.”

The consulting team of which I was a part filed a “final draft” of the Forest Stewardship Planning Standard with DNR sometime in the middle of 2021. Like many interested parties in the province, I await its release for public review. I have no factual understanding of why such a public review may be held up. An EA process or an EA-like process would need to have a development proposal in hand that would be the subject of the EA, and I see the Forest Stewardship Plan as equivalent to a development proposal. With no Standard in place to guide planning, a Forest Stewardship Plan cannot be created. Meanwhile, Port Hawkesbury Paper got a renewal this week of its Forest Utilization License Agreement. This is clearly not the order of events that Lahey saw as logical, and I agree with his assessment.

I guess the bureaucrats could argue that extending a lease is not the same as issuing or renewing a lease, but who are we kidding? Clearly, Lahey established that an EA should be required in precisely this case.

And as Patriquin points out, Port Hawkesbury Paper appeared to have understood that an EA was required, but for unknown reasons, that process was aborted. He writes:

The current government has gone one step further than its PC, NDP, and Liberal predecessors during that period [since 2008] by pretty well expunging the public history of these processes. A case in point: the 2012 FULA with PHP while still listed in searches on is no longer available on that site. (With a little searching, it can be found on the web archive). Nor can a lot else be found in the now very stripped down DNR/L&F/NRR website, for example documents related to the Natural Resources Strategy process. It seems that the Strategy for Improving Openness, Transparency, Collaboration and Accountability at the Department of Lands and Forestry (2019) has gone by the wayside.

In other forest news, Bancroft draws our attention to the proposed clear-cutting of 839 acres above Lake Ainslie, which is boreal forest that hosts endangered American marten, Canada lynx, and Canada warbler.

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5. Filling in Bedford Basin

In 2016, the caption to this photo read: “The new land at the port is arching towards the Africville church.” Now, the ‘new land’ extends far beyond the church. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“The Halifax Port Authority has been fined $75,000 and ordered to make a $15,000 charitable donation in connection with the drowning death of a dump truck driver who backed his vehicle into the Bedford Basin,” reports Blair Rhodes for the CBC:

Michael Wile died in 2018. He was dumping fill into the basin near the Fairview Cove container pier.

Last March, Nova Scotia Provincial Court Judge Elizabeth Buckle found the port authority had violated the provincial labour code because there were safety measures missing from the area where Wile was working that would have prevented the vehicle from entering the water.

Wile’s death has always bothered me, and not just because of the terrible loss experienced by his loved ones. But additionally: he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

The Port began filling in the Bedford Basin with pyritic slate around 2011, and the rate of infill became so alarming by late 2016 that I asked Chris Lambie, who was then on strike from the Herald and working for the Examiner, to write about it; he reported:

Since 2011, the Halifax Port Authority has created four hectares of new land in Fairview Cove by allowing companies to dump stone — mostly acid-bearing pyritic slate — excavated from construction sites around the city into the waters of Bedford Basin northeast of the existing container terminal.

That’s roughly the equivalent of four football fields that weren’t there four years ago.

To provide photos for the article, one Sunday I hiked around the area. I climbed the bluff and took the photo of the Seaview Church above, with the new land arcing in behind it. I wondered what the former residents of Africville thought about all this. Lambie continued:

“We have to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t interfere with our site there,” said Irvine Carvery, past president of the Africville Genealogical Association.

Carvery was 13 years old when his family left.

“I have living memory of Africville,” he said.

Former residents and their descendants – who return every third weekend in July for a reunion — don’t want the infilling to get in the way of the view from the replica of Seaview African United Baptist Church, a museum built in 2011 by the city to make amends for bulldozing the community.

“We’re keeping an eye to it to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the aesthetics of our site and our view lines from our land out over the Bedford Basin.”

The view is beautiful from the spot declared a national historic site in 2002, he said.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” Carvery said. “You get the full sunset when you’re out there. There is nothing more peaceful than sitting out there on the water’s edge, especially in the summertime.”

The shoulder seasons are equally pleasant, he said. “Even in the wintertime, if it’s not too, too cold it’s nice. I go out there year-round to enjoy the tranquility of the site.”

Six years later, those view lines out over the Bedford Basin are gone, interrupted by the ever-extending Port land. It’s obvious that the Port’s intention is to build a third berth, with giant cranes and shipping containers piling behind.

Much of the infilling of the harbour has been disconcerting. We’ve blocked the view of The Explosion from atop Fort Needham. We’ve put at risk the Bedford Reef. Dartmouth Cove is at risk.

But the encircling of Africville with new fill seems particularly egregious, and I’m not sure why no one is talking about it.

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6. Shearwater trail

A trail through the woods, with a bridge. Below is lettering announcing a meeting at the Buffalo Club.

I’ve been running on the Shearwater Flyer Trail for almost 20 years — it’s the perfect 10K there-and-back distance, flat, and the crushed gravel is easy on my aging knees. It’s also a bit of a reprieve from the city, a solitary jaunt through the woods and wetlands crossed by three bridges. On my runs, I’ve seen lots of deer, snakes, beaver, porcupine, and other critters.

Sometimes I pass a handful of other runners, hikers, and cyclists. We do that friendly little head nod thing. On exceptionally nice days the trail can be a bit crowded with recreational hikers, and that’s good; it’s great that people are using the trail and getting out. It’s good for their health.

For as long as I’ve been using the trail, there have also been ATV riders on the trail. At first, they were few and far between. And they were respectful, slowing down when they approached me and giving me wide berth. I didn’t have a problem with them.

But in recent years, the number of ATV users has increased dramatically and they’ve become annoying. It’s not just that many no longer slow down; I could deal with that. It’s that they’ve created scores of new trails leaving the main trail and heading out into woods and wetlands. At least three of these trails are veritable ATV highways, while others have been haphazardly bushwhacked; the result either way is a tremendous amount of erosion and the muddying of streams and ponds.

ATVs have made the Shearwater Flyer Trail experience far less enjoyable, and I’ve found myself increasingly preferring to use the Lake Charles Trail, which runs parallel to and is usually within earshot of the highway, but still.

I’m not the only one annoyed by the ATVs on the Shearwater Flyer Trail. The Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association is so fed up with them that the organization has stopped supplying maintenance to the trail. As Janice Bishop, chair of the Association, wrote:

Hello Friends of Cole Harbour Parks and Trails:

As you know CHPTA is no longer involved with the Shearwater Flyer Trail, due to the Minister’s decision to continue to allow motorized vehicles on the Flyer. If you have been an active transportation user (walker, runner, cyclist, etc.) of the Flyer you should be aware that there is an “information session” scheduled at the Buffalo Club 7 – 8 PM, February 16th with the involvement of several provincial government departments and HRM, on the transfer of the Letter of Authority. Invitation attached. Although the invitation/poster does not state it, we have been told the Marine Riders ATV Club now called Marine Riders Trail Association, based in Seaforth/Porters Lake, will be taking over the LoA for a trail in Eastern Passage/Cole Harbour. That club/association is known to promote shared use including off-road motorcycles and horses. Horses have the right of way over all other trail users. We thought you should know.

Janice Bishop
Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association

In 2020, Barbara Adams, the MLA for Eastern Passage, characterized the conflict over ATVs as a dispute between residents of Cole Harbour and residents of Eastern Passage, with the CHPTA wanting to kick the ATVs off the trail, and Eastern Passage folk wanting to continue to yahoo it up on their machines.

That sort of description has always seemed simplistic to me — I’ve known plenty of upper middle class suburban sorts who like to yahoo it up, and plenty of working class people who like the solitary runs and hikes through the woods, unimpeded by habitat-destroying ATVs. But I’ll admit my bias: I just don’t get the thrill of driving roughshod through the woods on a machine that degrades the experience for everyone else.

I’ve seen it happen far too many places.

Thanks to ATVs, the Old Carriage Road is impassible to hikers now, as the ATVs have caused so much erosion that small rivulets that one could step over have merged into giant thigh-deep streams. At some times of the year, the ATVs themselves can’t even get through.

Or, just try to walk around the loose networks of trails that used to criss-cross the woods south of the dump in Timberlea. The landscape now looks those forests in France that have been fenced off for a century because so many bombs were dropped on the place in the First World War.

Before the latest subdivision was built next to Exit 4, there was a trail that went all the way from Hubley to Hammonds Plains Roads, but it too became impassable thanks to ATV-caused erosion.

I’m sure readers have other examples of once-nice hiking trails utterly destroyed by ATVs.

This, I fear, will be the fate of the Shearwater Flyer Trail: ATVers will have a few more years of solid yahooing, but they’ll so muck up the place that soon enough even they won’t want to use it. Eventually, what’s left of the trail and the adjoining wetlands will be subsumed into a never ending sprawl of new suburban development from Woodside to Cow Bay.

If this concerns you, here’s an excuse to go to the Buffalo Club.

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7. Man shot

A Halifax police release from last night:

Halifax Regional Police members are currently responding to a shooting incident at 2400 block of Gottingen St in Halifax. The location has been contained – however members of public are asked to avoid the area as officers conduct the investigation.

The following streets are currently closed to all traffic – Gottingen between Charles & Buddy Daye Streets, and,  Uniacke St between Gottingen St and Brunswick St. We ask members of the public to use alternate routes and thank them for their patience.  A further update will follow when available. 

This morning, police issued that update:

At approximately 7:35 p.m. officers responded to a report of a shooting in the area of the 2400 block of Gottingen Street in Halifax. Officers located a man who had been shot. He was transported to hospital with what are believed to be life threatening injuries.

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Grants Committee (Monday, 10am, online) — agenda

Halifax and West Community Council (Monday, 6pm, City Hall, and online) — agenda

Special Meeting – North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm, St. Margaret’s Centre, Upper Tantallon) — agenda


Budget Committee (Tuesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — agenda



No meetings


Health (Tuesday, 1pm, One Government Place) — Delivery of 4.1 Hours of Care Per Resident in Long-Term Care; with representatives from the Department of Seniors and Long-Term Care, Office of Healthcare

On campus


Perspectives from the global south (Suriname) on archival repatriation: challenges and opportunities  (Monday, 5:30pm, online) — Rita Tjien Fooh, Director of the National Archives, Suriname, will talk; info and registration here



No events


Of Good Africans and Witch Doctors: The Entangled Story of How West African Activists Worked to Decolonize Late Colonial Film (Tuesday, 7pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — Philip Zachernuk will talk

African activists in interwar Britain had long been critics of the way British popular culturerepresented Africa, not least in the powerful new medium of film. But when the Colonial Office during World War Two had to recruit Africans’ help to cast a major propaganda effort masquerading as a feature film, they acquired new powers, especially to revise two cinematic figures central to colonial imagery of Africa: the evil witch doctor and the grateful “Good African.” Unusually detailed records of the film’s production story reveal their struggle to challenge and even remove these characters. The revisions achieved during this process, however, cannot be adequately explained as a story of direct resistance or as the displacement of colonial images by the Africans’ vision. Rather, the revised figures were amalgams created by the unavoidably intersecting and overlapping efforts of Black American and Caribbean artists and activists in Britain, sometimes obtuse Colonial Office officials, liberal filmmakers, and diverse West Africans. While the need to decolonize culture might be obvious, the results of decolonial efforts need to be appreciated within the entangled historical process of their creation.

In the harbour

02:30: MSC Vidisha R., container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Boston
03:30: ZIM Luanda, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for New York
06:00: Morning Lena, car carrier, moves from Pier 9 to Autoport
11:00: Tropic Lissette, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Saint Croix, Virgin Islands
14:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for Bilbao, Spain
15:30: Morning Lena sails for sea
16:00: MOL Charisma, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
23:00: Tropic Lissette sails for Palm Beach, Florida

Cape Breton
14:00: CSL Metis, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea


Snow, they say.

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  1. ATVs are the worst thing ever invented. That list is a long one though.

    They should only be allowed to be used no place in the natural world.

    Put them on a track some place near the airport and they can ride around chasing each other all day.

  2. They never stop. The OHV organizations with the support of our government and the money funnelled by local and provincial government toward “maintenance” of the very trails they destroy, and of course the Big Business of those who make and sell the machines have effectively killed hundreds of kilometres of railbeds that are useless now for tourism or the healthy activity of Nova Scotians. And of course there is the particulate toxicity e.g. the benzene you mention that can’t be doing anything but harm to the riders and can’t help but add to our emission levels. There are a lot of these machines about. There are ghost trails everywhere in the woods and in communities. Adjacent landowners who once benefited from the economics of the railway and used the trains to travel, ship their products, and connect to other places now find their properties harder to sell. And their own stress levels and health affected. And of course the rollover tragedies we hear about on a regular basis. But who notices? They are and were a very bad idea for our province. We once had a quite good piece of legislation called I believe the Trails Act but the Crown Lands act trumps all, e.g. the minister can always make the decision. And so full circle back to the essential problem- government support of this unhappy and unhealthy use of a precious resource- the earth we walk on and live on, the air we breathe, the skies we see. It has been and is a shameful chapter.

    1. On a cycling trip in Scotland, we travelled on a rails to trails path and stayed at a B&B abutting it. I asked our host if ATVs are as controversial as they are in Canada. His reply: What’s an ATV?

  3. I’ve never understood the appeal of ATVs either. “I’m going to tool around in the woods on an earsplittingly loud, smoke-spewing, terrain-chewing vehicle that terrorizes wildlife and ruins the experience for anyone else because I LOVE NATURE SO DAMN MUCH.”

    1. Basically because it’s fun. I don’t own one or a snowmobile at the moment but they can be a lot of fun. But they don’t belong within urban boundaries and they shouldn’t be on trails built for non motorized vehicles. Out around several rural areas in this province there are networks of trails that you’d never see anything but these vehicles and that’s where they belong. You own one, get a trailer and head out of the city.